Cancer in dogs: Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment


Certainly, a kind of fear will smack down all the pet owners, whose pet dogs are affected with cancer. They even think in such way that, very soon they are going to lose their lovable pets. But, what is more important at this stage is that: the pet owners have to stay strong and gain more awareness and knowledge about the effects and cures of cancer. Yes, if we know more about the cancer, then we can better understand what actually had happened to our dogs and how to treat them in a right way. In fact, many critical cases of dog’s cancer are also treated well and even removed entirely. If we notice that our dog has cancer, we have to get outlook from a veterinary oncologist, who is specialized in diagnosis and treatment of cancer in dogs. They give a brief explanation about the treatment, including what to do and what not to do.

We have to stay calm in order to fully understand the treatment options. And it helps us to take a good decision about our dog’s health. If the illness of cancer caught at early stages, then it enhances the chances of our dogs to live fit and healthy.

The complete details of about ‘Cancer’

As we all know that cancer is one of the most commonly occurring life-threatening diseases, yet, it is too difficult to understand completely. When it starts to develop in a human’s or dog’s body, the cancer cells in all organs will grow too rapidly and even divide as a part of their regular life cycle. We mostly, think that cancer typically occurs in a breast or in the lungs. Unfortunately, there are many types of cancer like lymphoma, which denotes cancer in the Lymph system; mast cell tumors, which occurs in the skin and Bone cancer, which is mainly found widespread in dogs.

Cancer will occur, particularly in older dogs over the age of 10. It is a truth that over 50 percent of the dogs, who all cross the age of 10 or in an age 10, might probably have cancer in their lives. However, the mortality rate can be low because half percentage of cancer in dogs is being treatable.

There is a common fact that when compared to earlier years, the percentage of cancer in dogs is getting higher in recent times. The actual reason behind this is the overpopulation and pollution in the environment. But this can be easily overcome only by the dog owners, who could take better care and show more love to their pets. Moreover, at current situations the quality of foods and veterinary care also had got vastly improvised. And certainly these are the main reasons for inducing the dog’s to stay a healthy long life. However, after they grow and enter into an age of 10, the hazardous cancer will incidentally develops. Thus, the rate of cancer will go up to the dogs at or after reaching age 10.

As like the common people, there are no notable causes of cancer in dogs. However, it is proven that environmental and hereditary factors add the development of the cancer disease.

The dog breeds that are most prone to Cancer

Saint Bernard

Though it is very clear that the environmental and hereditary factors are the main reasons, yet, the hereditary factors play a key role in the cancer of dogs as like in humans. Of course, some particular dog breeds are very liable to suffer with cancer. A certain dog (purebred) breed does have more chance to get cancer. This is definitely due to their gene pool that is too small and hence the cancer gene passes down to many generations.

Some of the particular breed that is known to have high a level of cancer are Flat-Coated Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Boston Terriers, and Bernese Mountain dogs. Large breeds such as Saint Bernards and Great Danes would suffer from bone cancer purely based on their larger size than the smaller size breeds.

However, dogs of mixed breeds are a part of the larger gene pool, as well as they don’t have the same gene of a pass down breeds. And due to this reason, a mixed breed has a less possible incidence of cancer. However, they are still in danger of cancer caused by the environmental factors.

Symptoms of Cancer in Dogs

sick dog

Just like humans, dogs have the same symptom of the lump, which occurs anywhere on the body. At the same time, dogs have more lumps naturally in their body, even more than the humans. So, it’s vital that when we find a lump on our dog’s body, simply without any panic or hesitation, we have to consider vets as soon as possible. They will keep a record of our dog’s health. And if necessary, they will also take a full body check up.

Other significant symptoms of canine cancer are:

  • Bad breath.
  • Weight loss.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Abnormal bleeding.
  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Difficulty urinating.
  • Difficult and irregular bowel movements.
  • Lethargy.
  • Discharge from any area of the body.
  • Swollen lymph nodes.
  • Swelling and sores in any area of the body.

If some of these symptoms found present in our dogs, then immediately we have to take them to vets for possible diagnosis and further examination. Although, sometimes cancer doesn’t show any symptoms or they show different symptoms in their body. So, we have to be aware of the symptoms of cancer in order to prevent our dogs from cancer.

Clear Diagnosis and Proper Treatment of Cancer

dog ultrasound

If the cancer is spotted on the dog’s body by the lump, a bioscopy will be taken. During this process, a small piece of tissue will be taken from the lump with a needle’s help. This tissue will be then sent for an examination by a pathologist and to identify whether the sample contains cancer cells or not.

In conjunction with a biopsy, other diagnostic tests might be taken such as ultrasounds, Radiographs and blood tests. If there is no lump present, they separate from a biopsy.

If it surely determines that our dog has cancer, many options are available for the treatment including the same options that available for humans. They include surgery, radiation, immunotherapy, and chemotherapy. In that case, cancer affected dogs may be permitted to make use any one of those available treatments or a blend of treatments.

After few treatments, the cost of treating cancer in dogs gets quickly a high value. Even before starting cancer treatment, the diagnostic testing have to be done to find cancer. This will charge an amount of $200- $1,000. After the diagnostic testing, treatment will begin that ranges a high cost from 1,000 to 15,000. Obviously, the cost of treating a dog’s cancer will depend upon the facility, we use, as well as the place we live.

Some dog owners choose that not to treat cancer, due to the consideration of cost, old age, etc. This will depend upon their personal choice and sometimes it will be a great benefit for animals. Although, it is important to think many times, before taking a decision regarding our dog’s health. Because of this, we choose to move on palliative care (specialized medical care for serious illness) for our pets. If we think that our dogs do not need to suffer, surely pain relief is offered. We have to keep in mind that pet cancer is not curable, although some of the dogs get slightly benefit from the treatment.

Preventing Cancer in Dogs

It is difficult to know how to prevent it because there is not a single important reason is found for the occurrence of cancer. There are some treatments that would help us to lower cancer in dogs.

The biggest thing that commonly all dog owners can do to prevent their dogs from cancer is spayed or neutered. Before first heat cycle, if the female dogs get spayed, hopefully, they get a less chance of developing breast cancer. However, at an early age, spaying of dogs will alter their hormonal balance, which will also help them to hold off cancer in their future. Even, at a young age, male dogs get a chance of spayed, they never have a chance to get testicular cancer.

If we decide to bring a purebred dog to our home, we gently, concern about the development of cancer in them. For that, we have to check their line to see if the cancer was yet present. Very easily we can get access to this information from the shelter or breeder of our dog. For overall health, Oral care will be important for our dogs. But it’s important that when we are considering oral cares and how to prevent dogs from it.

Diagnosis cancer in our dogs is quite a common and scary thing for us. Still, it will be treatable, even curable. This will become true, only when cancer caught early. So, it’s our job to keep a keen eye on our dogs, especially on dogs of age 10. Considering vet will give more support to us to cure cancer in dogs.



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